François Girbaud loves to talk with lively arm movements, projecting strong, underlying messages of "Never give up" and "Do something different" echoing between the lines. A former musician, who claims to have been his own best audience, he became known with partner Marithe in the '60s, for rocking the jeans world with stone washing. "And then there was stone washing", was not as easy as it looks. The dynamic duo set out to break the stiffness of traditional denim and the whites-separate laundry regime that came with it. After putting countless hours into convincing large factories that they weren't crazy, they set out to change the way the world looked at denim. Huge lots of jeans were washed with sand to no avail. Very big stones followed in the testing regime, producing little more than very big noise. After destroying more washing machines than bargained for in their original plan, they gave Italian pumice stone a spin as a last resort and stonewashing was finally born.

Girbaud has an inherent need to break rules and make changes in order to move forward. He is decidedly not the kind of guy that starts with a sketch and sticks to it. For him, fashion is an evolutionary work in process, that has to fit realistically within our lifestyles. Always quenching his thirst for the new, he recently tackled "lazerblading" (clean, hem-free fabric cuts) and "thermal fusion" (heat fusion to replace stitching) fabric applications. His current puzzle solving agenda includes developing modern, skin-protective bathing suit fabrics, just in time for the new millennium. Stay tuned for the unexpected...

Fashion Icon
Fall 1998